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Halemaumau lava lake measures 581-feet deep as Kilauea’s latest eruption enters 2nd week

  • COURTESY USGS
                                The Halemaumau crater lava lake measured 581-feet deep on Sunday, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists.

    COURTESY USGS

    The Halemaumau crater lava lake measured 581-feet deep on Sunday, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists.

  • USGS PHOTO BY M. PATRICK
                                The lava lake’s level did not changed significantly from Saturday to Sunday, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists. This photo shows lava flowing at about 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

    USGS PHOTO BY M. PATRICK

    The lava lake’s level did not changed significantly from Saturday to Sunday, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists. This photo shows lava flowing at about 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

  • COURTESY USGS
                                The lava lake inside Halemaumau crater at Kilauea’s summit image glows at sunrise Sunday morning.

    COURTESY USGS

    The lava lake inside Halemaumau crater at Kilauea’s summit image glows at sunrise Sunday morning.

One week after Kilauea volcano began erupting anew, the lava lake at Halemaumau crater has risen to 581 feet and contains about 4.8 billion gallons of molten rock.

But the eruption remains “status quo” with the increase in new lava adding one meter (just over three feet) to the lava lake overnight, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

On Christmas Day, the depth was 577 feet. The lava is still 1,340 feet below the south Halemaumau rim.

Lava continues to erupt within the summit crater through two vents on the west side.

“No evidence of activity outside the crater,” the USGS said on twitter. “HVO (Hawaiian Volcano Observatory) continues to closely monitor the situation.”

The Hawaii observatory is one of five volcano observatories within the U.S. Geological Survey and is responsible for monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes in Hawaii.

Images captured at 7:30 a.m. today showed reduced output from the west vents, a north vent still inactive, and overall, “no significant change.”

Gas emissions and seismic activity at the summit remain elevated.

Beginning on Dec. 20, fissure vents opened in Halemaumau crater and the former 167-foot-deep water lake quickly boiled off and was replaced by lava that now covers 72 acres.

By comparison, the maximum lava lake depth measured during the 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption was 413 feet.

The western fissure vents “remain active within Halemaumau crater, but have slightly decreased in eruptive vigor since yesterday (Saturday) afternoon,” the USGS said on its Kilauea volcano updates web page.

The federal agency said “high levels of volcanic gas, rockfalls, explosions and volcanic glass particles are the primary hazards of concern regarding this new activity at Kilauea’s summit.”

Fine particles scatter sunlight and cause the visible haze known as vog that has been observed downwind of Kilauea and was an all-too-frequent sight during Kilauea’s 2018 eruption.

The latest lava eruption is the first since then. Kilauea volcano had maintained a “low-level of non-eruptive unrest” since the end of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption and summit collapse, which deepened Halemaumau crater by over 1,640 feet, the USGS said.

“The pattern of collapse (such as occurred in 2018) and eruption is part of the cyclic behavior that Kilauea volcano has shown many times over the past 200 years,” the science bureau said.

The current activity at Kilauea’s summit is confined to Halemaumau crater within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, USGS said. Monitoring data show no changes to the lower East Rift Zone or other parts of the volcano.

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